Hank  Adler

For the second consecutive year, the California State Senate has passed a measure (SB 37), solely upon party lines, with Democrats voting yes, requiring California electoral delegates to cast their presidential votes for the national popular vote winner rather than for the presidential candidate who is victorious in California. The measure would become effective when and if states controlling 270 electoral votes, a number sufficient to elect the President, pass identical contractually binding legislation. Delegates with a sufficient number of electoral delegates to elect the President would thereafter be required to ignore their constituents and vote for the winner of the national popular vote. With Maryland's legislature passing and their Governor signing identical legislation, this is currently law in Maryland. Many other state legislatures and governors are pondering this proposal.

There could be no greater irony than the 22 Democratic members of the California Senate voting to disenfranchise the 16,000,000 million registered voters of California. Ignoring all intellectual positions, Democrats must know that if in 2004, 59,300 Ohioans had voted for John Kerry instead of George W. Bush, Senator Kerry would have become President despite having lost the national popular vote by over 3 million votes. They must realize that under this proposal, Californians, after overwhelmingly voting for Senator Kerry, would have watched their delegates cast their deciding 55 electoral votes for George W. Bush and therefore causing him to be elected President.

This notion that a number of states controlling 270 electoral votes (theoretically possible with the approval of only 11 states) should be able, by a contract among themselves, affect a "poor man's constitutional amendment" to the Constitution of the United States is fascinating. This should be abhorrent to anyone with the slightest interest in the vitality and history of the Constitution. If affected in 1792, alone, Virginia and Massachusetts could have instituted a popular vote methodology under this notion and likely caused a break-up of our young nation. In 2008, such a plan would reduce the combined voting impact of the voters of Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota in the presidential race to that of Brooklyn.

The Founders' conceptual framework for electing a President insured that urban voters of a few states could not totally control the selection of the President. Electing a President through a national popular vote would obliterate this concept.


Hank Adler

Hank Adler is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University.

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